Monday, December 7, 2009
Fennel-Dusted Chicken and Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
That evening, I made Fennel-Dusted Chicken with Brown Butter and Capers--my favorite new recipe of the season. As you already know, I love brown butter, but I also love capers. Capers are flower buds plucked from shrubby plants found on the cliff sides of the Mediterranean. I feel like some sort of kitchen nymph serving flower-bud-speckled sauces on my fillets beef or chicken or fish to an audience unsuspecting of the little treasure they're about to eat.
I paired the chicken with mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots. When you put these two on the plate, let the mashed potatoes lean into the caper sauce. A little extra butter never hurt a potato...
I kind of make up the potato recipe as I go along, but below are some guidelines. Please note that these are guidelines only.
8 large potatoes (white or russet) cleaned, mostly peeled, and cut in half or thirds depending on size
4 tablespoons of butter (or more)
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
Olive oil as needed
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of milk, plus more as needed
salt and freshly ground pepper
(other yummy additions are freshly grated parmesan cheese and sour cream)
Boil a large pot of water with plenty of salt. Add potatoes to the water and boil until they can be easily pierced with a fork--about 20 minutes for big potatoes.
While potatoes are boiling, bring some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a small skillet to medium heat. Add shallots, decreasing heat if necessary. Season with a little kosher salt. Saute for 15 - 20 minutes until deep golden in color. Remove from heat.
Preheat broiler with rack in the middle or upper third of the oven.
Drain potatoes and mash by hand with a potato masher, until the pot of potatoes is broken up. Add butter, mashing to encourage it to melt. Add buttermilk, mashing a little more. (If adding cheese or sour cream, add here.) Then add enough milk to reach your desired consistency, mashing a little as you go. With a slotted spoon, remove the shallots from the oil and add them to the potatoes, folding them in with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon potatoes into a ceramic baking dish. Make six swirls in the top of the potatoes, leaving pools for butter. Cut pats of butter and place in the empty pools. Broil for a few minutes until some of the swirled peaks begin to brown and the butter has melted.